Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America today and requires only a few pieces of valid personal information. With them, thieves can apply for and receive credit cards or debit cards in your name, quickly damaging your credit and creating huge hurdles to overcome in order to resolve your identity theft issues.
When a thief acquires key pieces of identity (such as name, address, date of birth, social security number and your mother's maiden name), it enables the impersonation to occur. This information allows the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which include:
- Taking over the victim's financial accounts
- Opening new bank accounts
- Purchasing automobiles
- Applying for credit cards
- Loans and social security benefits
- Renting apartments
- Establishing accounts with utility and telephone service providers
Identity thieves use various ways to gain access to your information. It can be obtained from uncollected mail sitting in your mailbox, personal information carelessly thrown in the garbage, dishonest retail or restaurant employees or by the theft of your wallet or pocketbook.
How do the thieves assume your identity? They may rent a mailbox, usually at a package shipping center. Then, they fill out a change of address card on your account using the address from the center and the mailbox number. They begin running up charges on your accounts. The bills then go to the new address and you may not find out about it for a few billing cycles, if at all.
The thieves aren't going to pay the bills or they may just pay the minimum to keep the credit card company "happy," prolonging the time it takes for you to find out about the problem. When they stop paying the bill all together or write bad checks, the delinquent accounts appear on your credit report.